Anti-Kurdish sentiment

Anti-Kurdish sentiment, also known as anti-Kurdism or Kurdophobia, is the hostility, fear, intolerance or racism against the Kurdish people, Kurdish culture, or Kurdish languages.[1] A person who holds such positions is sometimes referred to as a "Kurdophobe".

Origin and History

The term, "Anti-Kurdism", appears to have been first coined by Gérard Chaliand who used it to describe the anti-Kurdish sentiment in Iraq and Turkey during the mid to late twentieth century.[1]

Anti-Kurdish sentiment appears to have first emerged as a result of fears surrounding Kurdish aspirations for an independent state called Kurdistan and in response to ultra-nationalist ideology promoted by the states in which Kurds live. In Turkey, Kurdish identity was officially denied by the state, which sought to assimilate the Kurdish population. The Turkish government institutionalized the racism and paid academics to teach false theories that would deny the existence of Kurds, such as the "kurt-kart theory". The theory claimed that Kurds were merely Turks whose name came from the "kurt-kart" sound the people made when they walked through the snow of the mountainous southeast of Turkey.[2]

Various ultra-nationalist political parties and groups in Turkey have successfully campaigned using the general anti-Kurdish sentiment of the Turkish public.[3]

Anti-Kurdish sentiment increased in the Arab world during the formation of the United Arab Republic. At that time, Gamal Abdel Nasser implemented a policy of Arabizing the new republic by cracking down on Kurdish political dissent.[4] Following the collapse of the United Arab Republic, Syria would be officially declared the Syrian Arab Republic based on these same policies.

Anti-Kurdish sentiment has also been present in Iraq and Iran where there are large Kurdish populations. In Iraq, anti-Kurdism manifested itself in the form of genocide and Saddam Hussein's Anfal campaign.[5] In modern Iran, anti-Kurdism culminated with the declaration by Ayatollah Khomeini that Kurds are the "children of the jinn".[6]